The Govt Is Worried About Terrorism, But What About Torture?

This week the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence released its report on the CIA Detention and Interrogation Programme. We officially learned that the US was running a state sanctioned torture programme on people detained at the detention centre at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base until 2009, and probably at other detention centres as well. The programme was allegedly designed by two ex Navy psychologists whose company was paid $81 million by the US government for its work.

What happens now? There is no excuse for torture, anytime, anywhere. The perpetrators must be held accountable. Continue reading

Don’t Just Get Tough on Crime, Get Rid of Crime

Come election time there is always at least one party, sometimes more, that insists the way to prevent crime and keep everybody safe is to lock up anyone who looks a bit dodgy and throw away the key. This election is no exception.

There are many problems with this mentality, vote grabber though it may be. Yes, there is crime in New Zealand, and even one crime a year is one crime to many. But crime rates are not, on the whole, going up. Locking up people for minor offences costs the country a fortune and turns them into hardened criminals who will commit more crimes on release.

Getting tough on crime will never get rid of crime. It will always be shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted. No one can be locked up until they have actually committed a crime. By that time it’s too late. Continue reading

Stop privatization of NZ prisons

The Alliance Party fully supports the Corrections Association in their battle to prevent the privatisation of prison management in New Zealand.

Alliance Party co leader Kay Murray says it is horrifying that the National Government has already gone ahead and called for expressions of interest from private organizations in the management of prisons.

“They have totally ignored expert advice, including that of the union representing Corrections staff, who unlike the politicians, actually have to work in our prisons and know first hand what conditions are like.”

Ms Murray says prisons are expensive to run, no matter who is running them.

She says there will be no cost savings in tendering management to private organizations.

“These organizations will want to make a profit. The taxpayers will end up paying the running costs plus the profit margin plus the cost of monitoring private organizations and of the tendering process itself.”

Ms Murray says there is also a real danger that private operators will try to increase their profits by cutting staffing levels and eroding pay and conditions.

“This will endanger prison staff, prisoners and the public at large. Prison staff have a difficult and dangerous job at the best of times.”

She says not many New Zealanders run the risk of serious injury every time they go to work, and prison officers deserve decent wages and working conditions.

They also deserve to have sufficient numbers of staff employed to make sure that prisoners stay behind bars and that the prison environment is as safe as possible for both prison officers and other prisoners.

Ms Murray says overseeing the justice system is a key function of any Government.

“This includes our prisons which are an integral part of our justice system. Prisons must remain owned and run by the state.”